I’m fine with a flag representing Maori flying on Waitangi Day.
Some argue there are constitutional concerns with flying a flag representing Maori self-determination next to the New Zealand flag. They say it implies (as Pita Sharples seems to believe) two separate sovereign powers in this country, the Government of New Zealand and Maoridom (represented by the Maori Party?), where the usual constitutional understanding has been that the Government of New Zealand is the product of the Treaty between Maoridom and the British Crown.
Others argue that the Te Tino Rangatiratanga flag doesn’t really represent all Maori. Sharples only offered four choices – the flag of the United Tribes, the New Zealand Flag, the New Zealand Ensign, and TTR. The first is the flag of only some iwi and the next two were joke options. TTR was the only real option, but that doesn’t change the fact that it has represented one strain of Maori activism until this point and is the flag of the Maori Party. It smacks of arrogance for the Government to rename TTR the ‘Maori flag’ and decide that it represents all Maori.
I’m not really interested in the symbolism. I’m more concerned that this is it. This is the biggest thing the Maori Party has managed to deliver, the only pay-back for all the selling out. A piece of cloth to flutter in the breeze. Sharples says this shows that the Government values Maori and will incorporate their interests in decision-making. Which is just more meaningless symbolism. I’d rather see them doing something real about the 100,000 Maori Sharples says are out of work. I’d rather see Maori representation in the supercity.
So, it’ll be nice to have the flag fly. Whether it’s the right flag is another question, that Sharples didn’t really let Maoridom have the chance to answer. But let’s not pretend this changes anything – this Government is failing Maori and all Kiwis, apart from the wealthy, and the Maori Party is supporting that.